Friday 11 December 2015

Face Up Fitness: Body Testing and Why Faddy Diets & Exercise Regimes Don’t Work

There’s a lot of guess work involved in working towards our health and fitness goals, whether we're trying to shed a few pounds, pack on some serious muscle or simply get fitter.

There’s a plethora of different weight-loss eating plans to choose from and a strong temptation to ride the latest trend - hands up those on the 5:2 diet? It’s the same with exercise.

But how do we really know which eating plan or exercise programme is the best one for getting us to where we want to be? The truth is, without knowing exactly how our body works it’s a bit of a guessing game.

Apps like MyFitnessPal, the free online calorie counter and diet plan, have become hugely popular but they assume one thing - those of the same weight, age and height as ourselves have the same nutritional needs. We invariably don’t!
This has all struck a chord with me since being invited down to the Guru Performance Clinic in London’s Mayfair. Founded by Laurent Bannock, the clinic specialises in performance nutrition, exercise physiology, wellness and weight management. Its celebrity clients include elite athletes (Laurent is performance nutritionist to the GB Fencing Team), as well as musicians (Sting) and actors (Eva Green).

But Laurent, who has more than 20 years of experience in his field, is keen to point out that any health conscious person wanting to improve their physical performance and overall health would benefit from body testing at the clinic.

So, a  few weeks ago, Laurent and Scott Robinson, exercise physiologist and performance nutritionist (the team has a list of qualifications as long as your arm), put me through a complete top-to-toe analysis, showing me exactly how I am made up and what I could do to get fitter and healthier.

The initial assessment and plan is a  90 minute programme. It includes a full body assessment and metabolic lab testing. You can top this up with various follow-on packages.

So, back to the initial assessment. Be prepared: these guys are about to find out everything there is to know about you, from your age (sensitive) to how much you weigh (sensitive), to how much of your body is fat, bone, water and muscle (you soon get over the ‘being sensitive’).

They’ll also find out how efficient your body is at processing oxygen, how much carbon dioxide you produce, whether your body burns fat or carbs at rest (burning fat is what we want), what your resting metabolic rate is (i.e., the base number of calories your body REALLY needs a day), what body shape you are and your body fat percentage.

The final assessment is fitness. Here I had to walk then jog (the intensity is constantly increasing) for as long as I could while being wired up to a computer and wearing a mask. This was tough, especially as I was getting over a bout of flu (that’s my excuse).

I came away from my one hour 30 minutes with a shed load of stats which were emailed to me as I was on my way home! Scott, who conducted my assessment, talked me through the data during our session, but you also get emailed various infographics explaining how to interpret the data and what it all means for your health and fitness.

In addition, you receive a detailed nutrition plan, which Laurent and his team put together according to your test results, as well as the health and fitness goals you set out in the personal info sheet completed prior to testing.
I’ve created a montage of mine above, though obviously this will be unique to each client. The plan sets out how many calories and macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats etc) you need each day, depending on activity level. It also includes how many portions of various food types you should aim for, as well as giving meal and snack ideas. Everything is clearly explained and colourfully illustrated.

The initial assessment package costs £450. That may seem a little eye watering, but for those who are seriously into their health and fitness, the level and detail of data and advice you receive is considerable and, crucially, it’s all completely bespoke!

More on The Guru Performance Clinic here.

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